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I feel ashamed to have been that individual who used to stare at women until getting caught in the act. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. I didn’t realize the crime I was committing until a while ago. I don’t know how many people I’ve made feel uncomfortable just by staring at them. It took me a while to become cautious about this and change my actions accordingly.

Currently heading the IBMS project which aims to fight against gender based violence by encouraging survivors to break their silence, I realized it is important that I break my silence too. Not as a survivor, but as a bystander.

As a straight male, it is quite natural that I get attracted to the opposite sex and I do tend to admire them. It is also natural for humans to have their eyesight reach for reproductive organs or selective body parts. But there is a thin line of difference between looking and staring, between acknowledging the charm and committing a crime.

A lot of people still connect this with the kind of clothes an individual tends to wear. Some might wear clothes in which they are comfortable, some might want to reveal their skin to seek attention but that should never provoke you to either stare, touch or objectify someone else just as much as you wouldn’t walk into any random house just because all houses have welcome door mats.

This is not always about men staring at women. I’ve heard, witnessed and experienced even otherwise. Women staring at men, men staring at men, locals staring at foreigners, bystanders staring at transgenders and the list goes on. I have tried speaking about this to a couple of friends who have refused to accept that staring is a crime. And that’s when I realized how deeply rooted this heinous crime is, in our culture. We need to change our mindsets and we need to understand the mistake that we are committing.

We need to realize that staring is a form of violence wherein by staring we tend to make an individual uncomfortable and we tend to hurt their privacy. Some perpetrators do stare with the eyes of a predator and it is disgusting to see that even as a third person. Extended, blank-faced staring at another human is a hard-wired to be perceived as a threat by the person being stared at.  It’s instinctive & it provokes a feeling akin to a fight or flight response.

I will continue to look at women who I find attractive but I will dare not objectify them or stare at them. If you find your eyes being drawn at someone for some reason, do look at them and smile genuinely but if you don’t find it being reciprocated, turn away.

And it is not too late to acknowledge this and change our behaviour accordingly. If we aim at making this world a comfortable place and if we aim at gender equality, then it is time we start speaking about such things. It is time, we become the change.

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I am writing a piece from a very dark and deep side of my heart. Please empathise, from my 9 to 13 years of age I’ve been facing sexual harassment, many go through sexual abuse from random people here is mine case I faced it from my van driver..purposely he will drop me last and make me sit on the front seat and try to grab my chest. I didn’t even reach puberty..Then it used to happen at my very own house we were a joint family from my uncle (father’s brother ). He would unconsciously touch my bosom and react as if nothing happened. Then again from one of our building mates inside the lift. This one is the most disturbing and the most difficult one, forcibly pulled me inside the lift and kissed me and very grossly tried to insert his finger in my privates. These happened years ago, but still some of these memories haunt me and make feel so vulnerable. Because I was very young that time and these incidents totally ruined my childhood. I have told about my uncle to my mother once. She heard it with tears flowing. My father didn’t show much reaction but was very confused.

I always wonder why I wasn’t able to do anything to it. At least I hoped my father should have questioned my uncle once at least for this. My uncle moved out to another house quiet sometime after that, but my father has always been inclined towards his brothers. In fact my parents still stay in a joint family with my other uncle. I hate the joint family system for the very same reason.

Years passed by and I married the love of my life. Thankfully God blessed me with a very wonderful man in my life. He has been my rock forever…We have beautiful children and I take so much care that none of these incidents occur to any of them.
Mothers please take care of your children wisely. These incidents still victimise me. I feel depressed whenever I think about these no matter how much… Sexual abuse is not a matter to be taken lightly, protect your children. It’s beyond the good and bad touch. Ask them to speak and stand for themselves. If you have heard them complain please make sure to seek a justice. The effects are ever lasting and something that you cannot let go by being happy. One gloomy day everything comes back in front of my eyes, feel so bad that I wasn’t able to do something for myself. Now at least I’m hoping this message would benefit some of you.

 

*Name has been changed on request.

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It was almost 8 in evening. I was walking through a deserted street with brisk motion, cursing myself for the habit of being late and the inability to say no.

“You could have told your friends that you need to be home before 6.30. They know that you have to pass through this infamous street alone and this time is not appropriate. Or you could have at least asked one of them to drop you off. They are your friends after all!” my parents always scolded.

The cursing would have gone on and on but then one day it happened.

A traumatic incident which still scares me to an extent that I don’t prefer to go anywhere, alone. A biker zoomed in from nowhere and seized me by my waist, forcefully touching me and then sped away. It all happened within few seconds and I stood right there shocked and baffled about what just happened. Few moments passed, anger invoked, tears started rolling down my eyes and there I was, alone in dark, crying to myself.

The famous actress was coming to my town for some promotion. Of course I wanted to be there. You don’t get to see such celebrities every day. I came back from school, put on my best dress and got ready so fancily as if the actress had invited me personally and I was going to be on stage. I didn’t even care for lunch as I wanted to be there as soon as I can. I was with some friends. We finally found a place to sit after making our way through hundreds of people that had gathered there.

Then, I saw him.

He was at some distance and I caught him staring at me. At first, I ignored him but then I caught his eye on me a few times. He looked like one of those goons we see in the movies. I was scared and changed my place. Soon, the event came to an end and everyone started hustling to get to the actress for an autograph or just to get a closer view. We decided to leave from other gate and started to find a way through the enormous fan crowd. Right then, a hand grabbed me from behind and I felt someone touching me everywhere. It was him. AGAIN. I tried to escape but I couldn’t. It happened among so many people during the day but nobody noticed. Somehow I managed to escape and ran straight home while crying helplessly.

I think all women must have faced this at least once. The miscreants of society teasing us for pleasure.

Most of us do not tell anyone about it and keep it to ourselves thinking it is not something to be discussed about. Well, it has to be discussed. If we don’t speak for ourselves, it gives open permission to these anti socials to behave as they want and these type of incidents will never stop happening.

We need to take strict actions against them to stop them from behaving like women are their personal property and they can touch them without their consent whenever they want. Such incidents of teasing and molestation might leave us shocked but we need to act quickly. If not anything else, at least we should be ready to protect yourselves in any situation like this by keeping some self defense moves ready. It is in our hands to stop them and with right approach, we can.

 

This article was previously published on OoWomaniya.

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I must be around 10 years as I remember when I had gone for a family function with my parents. It was very much fun there. The good food and playing with the cousins. I liked it all but it was the time when my father said we are leaving and it reminded me of that I have forgotten something there.

I was just about to go and collect my stuff when an uncle came to me suddenly and he hugged me & kissed me and also said that he missed me too much. I was taken aback because the way he was truing to feel me up was uncomfortable.

But I thought I should ignore it. Then after a day or two he came to our home when nobody was there except me. He came inside & said let’s go to your room as he wanted to talk about something. I told him I don’t want to & said him to come when mom is home. He tried to force me but then I somehow managed to push him out of the house & locked it from inside. I did not open till the time mom came back.

I did not tell to my mother about it & stayed quiet because of fear and shame. I didn’t know what to say as he was our relative and how she would react.

But I am happy I could save myself from the known yet unknown danger.

*Name has been changed on request.

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Who would no like to cherish the childhood days and the buddies with whom we all spent our golden period of life. Just like that I too have a friend with whom I have grown up playing hide & seek since childhood. Though he is younger to me yet we share a special bond where we understand each other.

Well that’s what I thought but all this came to an end when I went to his place one day for our regular chit chat. Everyone else at home were sleeping. Out of all the talks he started some non-veg conversation to which I was little uncomfortable. Then the very next moment he forcefully hugged me and tried to kiss me.

I slapped him and told to his mother about the incident. All I want to share is that my whole idea of friendship and trust got shattered in a minute. I don’t know whether I will be able to trust someone again but definitely whenever I will anyone in such a situation I won;t even think twice to teach the person a lesson.

I urge everyone to not to be silent for anything that happens to you. You are not at fault then why to fear. I have broken my silence, it’s time to break yours!

 

*Name has been changed on request.

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I write this as I no longer feel shameful about what happened to me. In fact I am sure this would have happened to a whole lot of us.

I was travelling to my hometown. On the way the bus crashed and we had to board another bus. Luckily very soon a bus came and stopped for us. It was already full and all of us got into the bus. I could find no seat to sit there. After half n hour of trouble, I was still standing near the door. I felt somebody touch me, back down there. My first thought was it might be some mistake because there was a lot of rush as the bus was packed. But soon I figured what exactly was happening to me…. about after a min again…. some uncle around 35, he was trying to rub his penis on my back. It was awkward and disgusting. It was the first time something like this happened to me and I was not able to say anything to him. I could not share it with anyone as I felt hurt and shameful. Even now I do not share it with anyone. And I learnt a lot from that incident. Now I do not keep quiet but answer these bimbos well, whenever anybody even tries to do anything…

We have to open up…..This is not how we deserve to be treated and we are not objects of gratification for someone. All the shame and embarrassment I felt went away over time and I am a much stronger person now!

#feelingstrong

*Name has been changed on request.

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My father and mother were working and they used to drop me at our neighbor’s home whom they trusted. I was in UKG then and one fine day I was changing my clothes and a big boy who was 22 years old pulled me towards him. I did not know what was happening.

That happened for many days and I used to shout, yell at the loudest but nobody came. I told about that to my parents and then they went to his home but he simply refused and I was left unheard again. I could only cry as how he could refuse it.

I felt so helpless that my parents also believed him and did not care about what I said and instead of taking any action against him, they simply let him go.

I wish parents teach their children about good and bad touch and when a child reports about such things then there is no chance that he/she is lying. Children are too sensitive to cook up these stories. One such incident could be life time traumatizing for your children.

 

*Name has been changed on request.

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My cousin brother harassed me and I don’t know how to tell about it to my parents as he was my cousin who did this to me. I feel very bad and shattered.

I want to cry as my own cousin did this to me again and again. I am helpless I can’t talk to my parents about this as it will break our family. My escape from this is just that I keep a distance from him and take every possible measure to stay away from him or run away if I see him around. I feel helpless and somewhere I have accepted the fact that it is going to be like this always.

There is no way I see it ending. I wish I gather the courage to speak about it to somebody to stop it.

 

*Name has been changed on request.
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I was at my masi’s (maternal aunt) house. It was night and I was lying on my bed alone in the room and surfing on net.

My masi’s brother-in-law came inside the room. He was wearing boxers only. He asked me if I was talking to my boyfriend. I told him that I was just surfing on net…but I didn’t know what was going into his mind.

The next moment he laid down aside me and hugged me. He touched my breast and started speaking such things that I was shocked and horrified. I was not able to stop him either.

I told about this incident to my masi and mother. But the thing that hurts me a lot is that my mother and masi did not do anything against him. Even if any of them meets him now acts like they know nothing and greet him with a smile. I feel helpless then.

My mother could not help me with it but I wish that changes soon for others. It will start from a mindset shift and that has to start from US rather than waiting for somebody else to change.

 

 

*Name has been changed on request.

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Breaking my silence was not that easy for me.

Our basketball coach was an Army officer, we were having a normal conversation as we were walking, in a secluded place he tried coming close to me. He held me and tried to kiss me. I came out of his hold and walked to the other direction. I felt awkward and disgusted as how could my teacher do this to me whom I used to hold in high regard.

I hadn’t shared it with anyone then, later in the evening I told one of my friend who asked me to speak to our counselor. The counselor asked me to take this matter to the principal. Meanwhile I decided to share it with my friends one of them said a similar thing had happened with her the previous year but she couldn’t say it to anyone.

I then shared it with the principal who further just asked the coach to leave giving a vague reason that he cannot teach properly. I felt little bad then too as why my principal could not confront him by telling what he did was wrong.

It was great that he left but what came ahead was that I could not share it with my parents. It took me 4 years to share it with them finally and I’m very glad they supported me.

 

*Name has been changed on request.

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